(Matthew 21v6-7) ‘The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on.’
The disciples chose to be faithful to Jesus’s request, their faithfulness enabled to the Old Testament prophecy of Zechariah to be fulfilled. It is this scene of beauty where God is praised as Jesus enters into Jerusalem. This scene quickly turns to one of darkness and hate. This request begins the many events we will remember and later celebrate throughout this Holy week. Along this week we will stop to reflect on scenes where there will be great acts of faithfulness but also areas of great doubt and fear. It represents an enormous journey of faith that ends in the beauty of salvation and redemption. Prayer: As we enter into Holy week, may we take time to stop and meditate on the magnitude of all that was fulfilled and the life and relationship we now have due to the sacrifice of Jesus and the disciples. Amen.
(Matt 26V12-13) ‘When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.’
Did the woman know that what she was doing would have such a meaning? That her act of faith and love would go down in history? It was an act of faith, that she was ridiculed for because of the expense of it. Outsiders could only see the expense of the perfume, which they believed could have been used for more practical purposes. To Jesus, she had done a beautiful act of sacrifice and gratitude for a man she knew had transformed her life. There is a lot to learn from her act even for our lives today. That our offering and worship to Jesus may not always be seen as fruitful to those around us. However, our faithfulness should not be determined by onlookers but should be a full surrender of walking in relationship with Jesus. A life that is devoted to the will of who we are called to be by God.
(Matthew 26v15) ‘and asked “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?”
Judas was a ‘sell-out’, he was willing to sacrifice Jesus for his own gain. Jesus had always been willing to sacrifice his life for us all, it came as no surprise that one of his disciples had been the one to betray him. As we reflect on Judas, are there times in our lives where we have used Jesus for our own gain? Being willing to sacrifice Jesus sacrifice so that a worldly gain could be pursued. Has that gain/ did that gain bring any lasting satisfaction? We have all chose to pursue or own will over that of the will of God. Unlike Judas, we know a hope and redemption that Judas chose not to take. Where we have made mistakes, there is salvation and redemption.
(Matt 26v39) ‘Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed. “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will”.
It was raw emotions as the final hours are coming upon him. Jesus was not allowing fear and emotion to keep him from being obedient to God’s will. In our journey of faith, we all have to learn not to allow fear and emotion to be our drivers. To put our trust in obedience in God, even in the toughest and darkest circumstances. That comes when we learn to surrender and allow God to have control over our life. This was the beginning of the lonely hours for Jesus: his disciples were fallling asleep on him, he was abandoned, flogged beyond recognition and on the cross even God turned away as Jesus took on the sin of the world. Through all this Jesus remined faithful. The greatest act of love done under the cruellest circumstances. May we learn to keep our eyes focused on the light of the world even in our darkest days.
(Matt 26v40-41) ‘Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak”.
Three times Jesus goes off to pray and, on each occasion, comes back to find the disciples asleep. The disciples were not purposefully going to sleep each time Jesus left them. The command Jesus gave, to pray reminds the disciples where their strength is to be found. The Spirit is willing but the body is weak. Like the disciples, each of us on our faith journey have encountered trials. Many of us forget that we are not meant to do it in our own strength. That it is God who is our refuge and strength (Isaiah 40v31) ‘But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.’ I don’t think any of us could say that if we were in the disciples ‘shoes’ we would have not fallen asleep. For we all fall short before God, it is only through Jesus that we find our worth.
(Matt 27v46) ‘About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice “Eli, Eli, lema sabacathani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”)
To imagine the pain of God forsaking Jesus, I do not think we could ever comprehend. The scene is full of darkness and loneliness. It fits the description of the darkest moment being before the dawn. Forsaken by his closest followers and by God. Surrounded by people who despised him and longed for his death. Through all this rejection there would be redemption. There would be hope for each and every person. Take time to focus on the cross which was surrounded by brutality and death. Which is now a symbol of hope and life. Even the disciples had barley began their journey, through the death and resurrection there was so much more to gain.
(28v1) ‘After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.’ (28v6) ‘He is not here; he has risen just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.
These women had known transformation in their lives, they gained life and renewed purpose due to Jesus teaching and miracles. Their pursuit of the tomb shows their love and grief for Jesus. For in their society, they were seen with those of low purpose and who could not be a part of everyday. In the eyes of Jesus, they had worth and purpose. They are the first ones to blessed with the news that Jesus has risen.
Sunday- Easter Sunday
(Matt 28v18-20) ‘Then Jesus came to them and said “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’
All the disciples had messed up in one way or another. Before they knew Jesus, they were ordinary men going about life. The faith and authority Jesus gives shows he holds no wrongs against them, he knows their hearts. These are the men who go on to become the Apostles and spread the gospel, beginning the early church. May we all find renewed purpose and life, knowing that Jesus does not hold our wrongs against us. We are never beyond our calling when we pursue Jesus with all our heart.